Category: Ageing Challenges

Elderly care is a human right

As we celebrate the month of Human Rights, many people in South Africa are celebrating this month by conducting awareness campaigns, giving educational talks on various rights and holding peaceful demonstrations.

According to Chapter two of the Constitution of South Africa which contains the Bill of Rights, a human rights charter that protects the civil, political and socioeconomic rights of all people in South Africa.

The rights in the bill apply to all law, including common law, and bind all branches of the government, including the national executive, Parliament, the judiciary, provincial governments and municipal councils.

Pinetown Fever reporter Nosipho Mkhize chose to focus on the rights of the elderly, and spoke to CEO of The Association for the Aged (Tafta), Femada Shamam.

She said that to bring awareness to elder rights issues, Tafta will host an Elder Rights Awareness Walk in central Durban on June 14, followed by a dialogue session on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the day set aside by the United Nations internationally to discuss the rights of elders.

“Elder abuse is a global social issue and a very real one in South Africa. We hope the dialogue sessions we host on this day will provide the necessary stakeholders with the impetus required to give elder rights the attention it so rightly requires,” said Shamam.

Tafta is urging the South African government to deliver on the provisions set out in the Older Person’s Act through the delivery of supportive services that enable elders to continue living in their own homes.

She said the aged care association, which is home to nearly 2 000 elders in Tafta homes in Durban, says the demand for care services by the ageing population remains a concern for the association.

“Throughout Tafta’s 60-year history, we have reached out to those members of the community within our areas of operation in need of our services through outreach programmes such as Meals on Wheels and Home Based Care.

We realise the growing need in communities as we attempt to extend our footprint into areas we haven’t been able to reach in the past and we are working closely with the government and other key stakeholders to explore funding possibilities to bring elder care into more communities seeking out these needs.”

Shamam added that recent research indicates that in the next 10 years, the number of people over age 60 will surpass one billion, making the case for governments, advocacy groups and non-profit organisations to come together to seek out workable solutions to care for the aged within the community, and more significantly, in their homes, for as long as possible.

“As an elder care organisation, we’re aware of the challenges these arrangements come with, like the very real threat of elder abuse stemming from frustrations associated with caring for elders.

But, we believe that with the proper support systems, it is possible to have an elder in the home environment who is well-cared for, with little or no risk to themselves and other members of the home.”

Article written by Nosipho Mkhize. Copied from:

Warning over ‘unnecessary’ hospital admissions for terminally ill patients

Patient in hospital
In 2016 there were nearly 100,000 emergency admissions for people in the last year of their life. Getty Images

The NHS could be facing an annual bill of more than £470m to cope with emergency admissions for terminally ill patients, a leading charity has said.

Marie Curie said improved community care could avoid unnecessary strain on Scottish hospitals.

It found that in 2016 there were nearly 100,000 emergency admissions for people in the last year of their life, costing the NHS £285m.

The charity warned that could almost double over the next twenty years.

The Scottish government wants everyone who needs palliative care to have access to it by 2021, with a doubling of services.

Marie Curie said there has been a decline over the last five years in the number of emergency beds used by dying people but even if the trend continues to lower more A&E services would still be needed.

Richard Meade, head of policy and public affairs Scotland at Marie Curie, said: “Unnecessary hospital admissions are a huge cost to the NHS and as the number of people dying each year is set to increase significantly, we need to address the provision of care now in order to avoid further crisis.

“While some emergency hospital admissions for people living with a terminal illness are appropriate and necessary, many are not and can often be avoided entirely if appropriate care in the community is provided.

“Being rushed repeatedly to hospital is stressful and upsetting, particularly when someone may have little time left.”

Older person hands
Getty Images

The charity said A&E should be a last resort.

Mr Meade added: “The integration of health and social care gives us a fighting chance to improve care in the community.

“If the Scottish government realises its ambition that everyone who needs palliative care has access to it by 2021, including a doubling of community palliative care services, then this will help to continue to ease the pressure on hospitals and acute settings now and in the future.”

Research by the Nuffield Trust has shown that hospital costs are by far the largest cost involved in end-of-life care.

The Scottish government said Scotland was “widely recognised for providing high quality palliative care”.

A spokeswoman added: “The Marie Curie report notes that we have responded to the demands of an aging population on health and care services through the integration of health and social care.

“This reform seeks to ensure that those who use services get the right care and support whatever their needs, at any point in their care journey, and will enable more people to be supported in the community at the end of life.”

Dr Adrian Boyle, chair of the quality emergency care committee at the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “The last thing patients at the end of their lives want is to be in hospital.

“Increasing the resources available to social care will not only help reduce avoidable admissions, free up beds and relieve pressure on our struggling emergency departments, but will afford terminal patients the dignity and comfort of living out their last days in familiar surroundings.”

Article from: BBC Health

Doctors in the UK are prescribing social activities to…

Tsira Tsagareli (R), 66, dances with Jemal Nemsitsveridze, 77, during a class at the Fortune dance club in Tbilisi January 29, 2015. Eliso Bakuradze, 79, who has been dancing since her school years, established the club 10 years ago. About 20 people, mostly pensioners, gather at the club three times a week to enjoy dancing. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA - Tags: SOCIETY) - GM1EB1U06M601
Social prescriptions could help tackle some of the modern world’s major health issues. Image: REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Smoking kills. But so does loneliness.

And that is why British doctors are embracing “social prescribing.” It doesn’t tell people what medicines to take, but rather what to do with their spare time. That can include learning how to bake, dance, draw or take up yoga.

“Tablets are not the answer to everything,” says Rosemarie Jones, a GP from Lupset Surgery in Wakefield in a video for the Social Prescribing Network. “Lots of people are lonely and socially isolated and that impacts on their health generally.”

Social prescribing means that a doctor may write out a prescription for a person to take part in an activity, usually at a subsidized price, to help them meet other people and find a new purpose or focus.

“For a lot of people going to do a new activity or going to meet other people is very scary,” says Jones, “and social prescribing can help with that and point them in the direction of something they are interested in.”

The link between loneliness and health outcomes is well established. Image: IotUK, Social Isolation and Loneliness in the UK Report

Confidence booster

Wellbeing Enterprises, which works in the northwest of England, defines its mission as helping people find things that made them smile, and offers activities such as line dancing classes, drumming lessons to inspire confidence and creative painting courses. Alongside these activities, the centre also provides sessions on mindfulness, sleep and relaxation and discussions on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress.

As well as helping people to manage their health problems, social prescribing could also be a way of saving money and reducing the bills of the National Health Service in the long term.

comprehensive study of more than 3 million people in 2015 concluded that loneliness can increase the mortality risk by 26% and is a major public health issue that represents a greater health risk than obesity.

And a recent study from the London School of Economics suggests that the epidemic of loneliness costs £6,000 per person over 10 years in terms of visits to family doctors, emergency rooms and prescriptions.

The same study suggested that every £1 invested in tackling loneliness now would save the health service £3 in five years.

And Mark Swift, who runs Wellbeing Enterprise, told the Economist that his project saves the public purse over £10 for every £1 spent, mainly in forgone treatment bills.

Sharing best practice

The Social Prescribing Network is a group of doctors and academics that has been set up to try to share best practice of social prescribing and is attempting to quantify the effectiveness of social prescribing in a more formal way.

Depression is projected to rise sharply, especially amongst older people Image: The Kings Fund

Its review of the evidence on social prescribing showed that, on average, it was associated with a 28% fall in GP visits and a 24% drop in attendance at emergency wards. However, the group also points out that the quality of that evidence is weak and more evaluation is needed. Another reason why it may save the NHS money in the long run, is that there are additional streams of funding, since many charitable organizations are also involved.

Social prescribing has largely grown at the local level, without any top-down instruction or policy at a national level.

But mental health issues are set to increase significantly over the next decade – especially amongst the oldest members of society.

And prescriptions of antidepressants in England are at an all-time high, according to the latest data, with 64.7 million items dispensed in 2016, at a cost of £266.6 million.

So any prescriptions that create happier people whilst reducing the pressure on doctors and budgets, are likely to be given much more attention going forward.

Article copied from: World Economic Forum: